tv Moment of Truth Countdown CNN July 22, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
that's coming up tomorrow. a big, big night tonight coming up. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." i'll be back one hour from now with live coverage of president obama's news conference. then at 9:00 p.m. eastern, the premier of "black in america 2." but starting right now, moment of truth the countdown to "black in america 2" hosted by soledad o'brien in times square. wolf, thank you very much. welcome to new york city's times square, everybody. as you can see, we're in front of a live audience literally smack-dab in the middle of time square. we have brought together this evening some of the most influential radio talk show hosts in the country and in turn, we have asked them to invite the most influential people who brought them to a life-changing moment of truth, is what we're calling it. it is just the beginning of a momentous night right here on cnn. we're premiering "cnn presents" "black in america 2," which is a look at the most challenging issues facing african-americans and also the solutions to those
issues. of course we're counting down to president obama's prime time news conference. we could not have picked a more timely night to begin our discussion. but here to get us started is tom joiner, his nationally send kapted -- welcome -- syndicated radio program "the tom joiner morning show" of course heard by millions of folks every day. the past few days, one story's really dominated the conversation on his program. take a listen to a little bit of what they were talking about. >> so, the professor of african-american studies at harvard university was arrested because a neighbor -- >> he was truly arrested? >> handcuffed. >> arrested. the cambridge police came to the door and said "identify yourself." he said, "why? because i'm a black man in? in america?" >> the man they're talking about also happens to be the most influential person in tom joiner's life. please welcome in his first tv
appearance since the arrest, professor henry louis gates joining us. tom and professor gates, nice to have you both. you sort of had your own moment of truth over recent days. i'd like to start with that. we know that you were on a lengthy trip to china and you were returning home. what exactly happened? >> well, i was filming my new documentary series for pbs calls "faces of america requests about immigration. we were filming yo-yo ma's an ses tral cemetery in china. i took my daughter along. we had just flown back from china. i came from new york to boston. my driver picked me up. we got to my house in harvard square and the door was jammed. the door wouldn't open. to make a long story short, i asked my driver to push the door through. i gave him his tip, he left. i called harvard real estate which does the maintenance on my house because they own the house. while i was on the phone, a cambridge policeman showed up on my porch.
i walked with the phone still active to my porch and he demanded that i step out of my house on to the porch. all he said. he said, "i would like to you step outside." i said, "absolutely not. why are you here?" he said "i'm investigating a breaking and entering house. i said "this is my house, i'm a harvard professor. live here. he said, "can you prove it?" he said just a minute. i went to the kitchen to get my harvard i.d. and massachusetts driver's license. he followed me without my permission. i gave him the two i.d.s and demanded to know his name and his badge number. >> when you demanded that, what did he say? >> he didn't say anything. he was trying to figure out who i was, looking at the i.d. he didn't say anything. i said why are you not responding to me? are you not responding to me because you're a white police officer and i'm a black man? he turned, walk out, turned his back on me, walked out. i followed him on to my porch. looked like a police convention, there were so many policemen outside. i stepped out on my porch and said "i want to know your
colleague's name and his badge number." and this officer said, "thank you for accommodating my earlier request. you are under arrest." and he slapped handcuffs on me and they took me to jail. >> originally they put the handcuffs behind your back. >> they put them behind my back. i told them i was handicapped, i used a cane. they had a debate. a black officer there persuaded them to move the handcuffs from around the back to the front. they took me to the cambridge police station and booked me, fingerprints, mug shot which has none been all over the universe. >> i got to tell you, to see -- i mean professor gates, i had him in college. to have that shot, your mug shot, it is quite a shock to see. what was that moment like for you? >> it was terrifying. i realized -- >> were you afraid? >> i knew that i was in danger but i knew, too, that as soon as my friends could get to jail, starting with professor charles ogle tree, my friend and lawyer, that eventually i would be okay. but what it made me realize was
how vulnerable all black men are, how vulnerable all people of color are and all poor people to capricious forces like a rogue policeman. this man clearly was a rogue policeman. >> police report said he described you as behaving in a tumultuous man person. >> look how tumultuous i am. i'm 5'7", i weigh 150 pounds. my tumultuous, outragest action, tom, was to demand he give me his name and his badge number. soledad, why? because if i had stepped out on the porch -- it is important for all people to know this about the police. if i had stepped outside of my house, he couldn't come in my house legally without a warrant. he couldn't arrest me without a warrant. had i stepped outside he would have slapped handcuffs on me for being under suspicion of breaking and entering because he was responding to a profile. two black men with backpacks were breaking and entering into
my home. when he see me he just presumed that one of them was me. >> a neighbor called 911. it was a neighbor of yours who said that description, two black men breaking into your house. are you angry with your neighbor? >> no. in fact i hope right now if someone's breaking into my house this nice lady's calling the police. i have a lot of valuable art and books in my house. i'm going to send this woman flowers. i know she must think that i'm very angry. it wasn't her fault. it was the fault of the policeman who couldn't understand a black man standing up for his rights right in his space. and that's what i did. i would do the same thing exactly again. >> the charges were dropped. >> charges were dropped and the mayor of cambridge, god bless her, called me and apologized to me. my lawyers and i are considering what further action. because -- >> does that mean lawsuit? >> perhaps. because this is not about me. this is about the vulnerability of black men in america. >> you raise an interesting
point. again, the reason you were originally here was to talk to being the inspiration for tom joiner. you helped tom track down part of his history that brings us right back to the vulnerability of african-american men. but many, many years prior to your situation. >> almost a century ago, tom's great uncles, tom and mick griffin were electrocuted on september 29, 1915, in south carolina for a crime -- for murdering a white man, a confederate veteran, for a crime that they most certainly did not commit. we are filing papers to the governor of south carolina -- who's been rather busy lately, hasn't responded to my -- >> we've got him in the news too. >> i think they took your petition to south america somewhere. but we're going to get them exonerated. it is a terrible, terrible story. >> what did it feel like? all this was done with the dna testing. really your passion has been to sort of fill in the blanks with
a story of african-americans. do you that on pbs, do you that in your work, do you that in your research, you do that in the dna testing. it was incredibly emotional for you to know the people you came from. >> yeah. >> why? >> first of all, when you asked me to do this, and you asked, name someone who's been very influential in your life, this was three weeks ago, not knowing that what happened to dr. gates had happened and making him the star of this whole "black in america 2" show today. every day that i go into my studio, i have the books that he gave me about my ancestry. >> tracing your history. >> like the log of the "apollo," just for good luck, when i walk into my studio, i rub these books, because that makes me realize that no matter how much of a struggle that i might be
going through, that my ancestors went through a larger struggle. we've come a long way and dr. gates and the incident reminds us that we still have a long way to go. >> why is it so important that black people know where they come from? i mean a lot of your passion, professor gates, is in making that connection and when people discover who they come from, they freak out. >> you get fired up. you get fired up. i know it did for me. >> what did it do for you? >> it did for me. when he showed me where i came from and the people that came before me, the shoulders that i stand on, my ancestry, it was inspirational to me. now all of you out there in this audience, out there in the audience, tv audience, i strongly recommend that you do the very same thing. no matter how tough things seem to be, if you can look back and see what your ancestors went through and where you came from?
you will be much better as a person and you will say, hm. you know? >> why do people have this visceral emotional reaction knowing something that happened being decades prior? >> because our ancestor's systematically, our collective history and our individual history, are us. when i use a team of genologists out of utah -- thank goodness for the mormons who have gathered all these records. when we give people their family tree back, they all cry. whether it was oprah winfrey, chris tucker, chris rock, tom joyner, they all cry because the loss has been found. it's like thinking you're floating on air withoutny roof. >> we were branches without roots. but we are branches based on roots, and each of us has to do our own family tree.
each of us has to restore the lost ancestors black to slavery and collectively we could tell a new tale of the history of the african-american people as a group, as a community. >> you have offered to fill in some of the blanks for that police officer who helped himself into your house and arrested you. you've said you want an apology. have you had an apology yet? >> i haven't heard from sergeant crowley. i would be prepared to listen to him. if i were convinced, if he would tell the truth about what he did, about the distortions that he fabricated in the police report, i would be prepared as a human being to forgive him. that would not deter me from using this as an educational opportunity for america. because if this can happen to me in harvard square, this can happen to anybody in the united states and i'm determined that it never happen to anybody again. >> gentlemen, i thank you both. we'll have you both stick around as we continue our conversation. we're waiting, of course, for president obama enews conference and the premier of "black in
welcome back, everybody. we're counting down to president obama's prime time news conference, and then the premier of "black in america 2." as we wait, we are talking with some of the nation's best known talk radio hosts. our next guest is steve harvey, an actor, an comedian. he's also the host of the steve harvey morning show. it is nice to have you. >> how are you doing? >> i'm great.
what was your moment of truth? >> you know, i think a lot of us at one point in time in our life have to deal with our spirituality as a person. back in 2000, 2002, somewhere in there, i was really struggling with it. because especially for me -- it's tough, because you know, we think if we become spiritual or we admit that we need god or we love god, that that somehow diminishes our manhood, that it's going to put us into a submissive role oftentimes or we're going to have to start taking stuff we wouldn't normally take. so i got off the radio in l.a., i was sitting in my dressing room, i was really struggling with -- i just wanted to say, hey, man, that i had a really, really cool relationship with god, that god loved me in spite of how i was. i was sitting there wrestling with it because of what i do for a living, because of what i say when i'm on stage, or because of
some of my material sometimes has an edge to it. or maybe it's because you rap, or because you sing secular music -- i was wrestling with that. my man, bishop kenneth came, he happened to come up that day to the radio station to take care of some type of business with his church. he sat me down and explained something that really changed me, you know, that, look, man, god created you, that you can still do your thing, as long as your thing is legal, you can still do your thing and you can still have a relationship with god and god will still love you. in spite of all your shortcomings. that may sound like kind of regular or corny to the average person, but we all got to deal with our spirituality. because we all got a connection to god, you know, whether you want to admit it or not, and that moment of telling me that the way you walk with god is different from the way of everybody else. it ain't no certain way that it goes. because your mission in life is different from other people's mission.
and he made me get comfortable with the fact that, okay, steve. sometimes you're going to trip, you're going to say something crazy. sometimes, man, you're going to be a little bit out of bounds. but everybody is out of bounds sometimes. >> bishop you will mer wisbisho of intluns. i'd like to bring him up. it was interesting to me you were also struggling at that same time. was it difficult for you as a man of cloth to try to give advice at the same time you were personally struggling? >> i think the way our lives came together, we were walking the same path. i was going through some really challenging things. our church is where the lakers used to play. i got a lot of heat. one person said how can a church do this? how can you do this? it was similar to where steve was, to be questioned, particularly about your heart, your motive, about your
integrity. to say that because you are this, you cannot do that. because you are here, you cannot go there. to see god kind of had us in similar places. i think for me, he was a gift. i'm kind of surprised he'd be here. i thought it was a prank from nephew tommy. he was a gift in that what i do is very lonely sometimes, what i'm called to do, to minister the way i do. and people who are up there or trying to get up there, it's very lonely at the top. it is a cliche but it is true. >> you mentor each other? what do you do for each other? >> there is a verse in the bible that says we're as iron sharpening iron. god has used him to bless me, and i didn't know how much i blessed him, but -- i think it's just the way god works. >> how does this fit into your focus on men and manhood? we talked about this before, about harveytown, all the things
you're trying to do to help young men. >> men have to hear from other men that they love them. that's hard for us. especially in our community, man. because we are around such bravado. it is necessary for us to know that it's okay for men to say i love you, man, i feel you what you're going through, i love you. it is important, man, that another man hugs you sometimes. just put his arm around with you one of them strong embraces that just gives you a word in your ear, "man, hang in there." you know what i'm saying? i was going on with something around new year's eve. he catch me the next day. i had an idea in my mind about doing something sideways. i'm not really -- i'm a christian, but, um -- >> a struggling one sometimes? >> yeah. because you know -- i'm permanently on the enl. i'm like -- i'll step off the line in a heartbeat if i have
to. somebody had done something to me. i said it is easy for me to retaliate. he sent me a text that said, "kings don't swat flies. kings have fly swatters." what i had to come to terms with was in the position that i'm in, man, just sit down and back down just let it get handled in its own way. he didn't have to catch me -- i didn't even know he knew but he always texts me at moments when i'm really struggling. i don't want to sound corny or nothing, but we all have these moments. i know everybody can bring somebody on here about somebody that done something financial or something that this, that and the other but your spirituality aspect of your life is critical because it is a key element. people get uncomfortable talking about it and news people don't like mentioning it. >> no, no, they run. >> they edit it out. but we lie. so you can't. >> it's why we asked you to come on and talk about this. we'll ask you to stick around as we continue our conversation. coming up next is a family,
really, a basic family influencing in everybody's life. next guest radio talk show host bev smith. she is here with a family member who brought her to her moment of truth, her sister. we're counting down to president obama's news conference, then the premier of "black in america 2." stay with us. man: it seems, only a minute ago, we were kids with little responsibility, zero accountability. our parents telling us what to do... how to behave. now, all of a sudden, we're there, in that role, at that time in our lives where everyone and everything is depending on us. it's a scary feeling, but it's also a good one. especially when i'm confident someone's there for me.
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what's your goal for them? >> i've dreamed, the goal, is to come back and these kids are going to be our next leaders, our next civic leaders. >> welcome back, everybody. we're counting down to president obama's prime time news conference. it will be followed by the premier of cnn's "black in america 2." features the activist you saw there, malaak compton rock. she took 30 kids from a neighborhood in brooklyn to south africa to inspire them to dream big. some of the most influential and popular radio talk show hosts, bev smith, host of the bev smith radio show on american urban radio network. 20 million listeners, 200 markets. got to get that in. what would you describe as your
moment of truth? >> when i was born. seriously. >> that's a start. >> my mother with all six of us proclaimed the african way. professor gates can probably tell but this, my child will be this much, i will be that much. >> what did she say about you? >> you really want to hear? >> yeah. >> that i would be the advocate for the black community. and it has come true. yeah. speak the words that be not as if they are and here i am. >> it can be a lot of pressure. did you ever say, actually, mama, i don't want to do that? >> every time i look at my paycheck! >> you have brought your mom, i know couldn't be here. >> yes. >> but your family, your's a very tight family. your sister doris you've brought. one of the family members who inspired you. cookie, why don't you come on up. cookie is the director of the human services department for the city of chesapeake in
virginia. >> yes. >> tell me a little bit -- >> hi. >> great to see you. thank you for being with us. talk about advocacy. was your mom a tough mom? easy mom? >> my mother was a marine sergeant. and i can tell you an incident. she worked two jobs and so did my dad and we were supposed to do the dishes. she came home around 12:30. we were all sleeping. she found the dirty dish so she woke up, pulled the dishes out and we had to wash every one because she wanted us to learn to do a job right. that's the kind of mom we had. >> not only that, we weren't allowed to run in the house. you know how kids run all through the house? we were not allowed to do that, or to slam the door. if you slammed the door you had to go in and out of the door 100 times. had i known what i know now, i'd be doing it, because it makes you lose weight. >> how did her passion and her vision for your advocacy play a
role in your life? obviously on your show you've become a spokesperson for so many issues in the plaque community. health care is one. connect the dots for me. >> i can't talk about my mother without talking about my late father. my mother was an advocate all the time. she told us that what we were supposed to do. i'm reminded of something that happened with my father. he helped start a black union for construction workers. he was supposed to go to washington, d.c. to testify before robert kennedy. before he got off the pennsylvania truck, about ten trains -- about ten to 13 white men beat him. unmercifully. put him on the train and sent him back home. so when my -- they didn't want him testifying about the racism in the industry that still exists today. and so when he came home, we were crying, daddy, daddy, look at you, look at blood. he said "clean me up." and goat back on that train and
he went to washington, d.c. and he testified. that's who we are. that's who we are. >> on your show you talked about the pool incident is what people call, the story in philadelphia with the kids and a day camp who were basically kicked out. i want to play a clip from your show where you discuss this issue with your listeners. >> the people from philadelphia called us and said, this is what is happening and no one is talking about it. then of course, you saw the little boy and he was crying. he said, "we have a black president." and i never thought this would happen. we learned this morning that the people in that group are going to sue that country club. here we go again. i mean it is deja vu. >> you were talking to the new head of the naacp. what do you take from that incident? i mean other people say, we have the first black president. >> well, we have a black man in
the white house but we've always had a black man in the white house because we built the white house. so i mean that's not different. we have an african in the white house. but africans have always been in the white house. d.l. and i had a little disagreement earlier. i know that there are symbols. you are a symbol. oprah's a symbol. but i'm old enough to be tired of symbols. i want to know what it feels like to be free. and barack is in the white house and he gets more threats than abraham lincoln did. barack is in the white house with the more gorgeous first lady we have ever had. and they talk about her on the front. barack is in the white house. and an aide to a legislator put him on a stamp and 44 presidents -- and they put him like they did in the minstrel days with white eyes and a black background. i am really fed up to the limit with this. i'm at a point where we're not going to take it no more. we have had enough.
we paid the price. we're an educated professor. we're a tom joyner, we're a bad steve harvey. we're a funny d.l. hughley. we're cookie robbers and we're not going to take it no more so we have a job to do. that's what i talk about on the bev smith show. that's the passion of my mother and the passion of my father. i think everyone in this audience ought to look back at their parents and what their parents sacrificed, because you owe it to them and you owe it to your children not to let it happen again. >> cookie, does she sound like your mom and your dad? >> she sounds exactly like them. and my grandparents. i can remember going into my granddad's room on sunday and all these men came with cigars. they were actually planning the first union for black miners. we have had this throughout our family for as long as we know. it's just what we do. >> in the blood. stick around as we continue our
conversation, getting ready for "black in america 2." think about the most important person in your life. maybe a friend, sister, pastor. this is another possibility. in the case of d.l. hughley, it is a teacher. he has not seen him in 37 years. we await president obama's news conference and the premier of cnn's "black in america 2." stay with us, back in a moment. may i help you? hello, down here! you hiring? good! yes, but... then i can set my master plan in motion. your master what? i got big dreams and everybody knows, if you work here, the sky's the limit. well, yes. my neighbor did... and now she owns three mcdonald's. plus, mcdonald's gives out scholarships. and who wouldn't want that on their resume?
welcome to times square, everybody, right in the heart of new york city, watched over by the econic statue. "give my regards to broadway" over there. yankee doodle boy. nice to have you all in the audience. we are live right now, literally in the middle of manhattan. my next guest also made his reputation as an entertainer. these days d.l. hughley is a cnn contributor, just joined the ranks of raid wroe talk show host on 98.7, kiss fm.
you were part of black in america the first one which we so appreciated. what was your defining moment? what was your moment of truth? >> it's funny that i would bring a teacher on i hadn't seen 37 years. it was probably the last time i went to school. i remember being a kid. i remember my mother would always say never ask why. you ask so many questions. stop asking why. i was in class one day and i said -- the girl's name was tanya. she asked a question and i started to ask something and i went, oh, i'm not supposed to ask why. he said never be afraid to ask why. this teacher. it opened something up for me that clicked. i know you can tell by the fact that i dropped out two years after that. never went to school again. but to have somebody tell you and give you permission to have a perspective and to form an idea on your own was life changing for me. it kicked in later, had a late
effect on me but to have somebody give you permission to be you is an amazing thing. >> mr. lane boston is with us. i know he was on your radio show. come on up. mr. boston, you talk a lot about his car parked in your driveway. nice to see you, sir. >> whenever i would get in trouble -- which is all the time -- he would have his volkswagen -- i would be coming home and see his volkswagen in the driveway, and go damn! woe tell on me all the time. he looked like a hippie. had he long hair. he looked like the dude -- i used to think he was shag gee from scooby-doo. there was no white people in my neighborhood except for police officers and insurance men. and this dude was not afraid of anything. like anything. people -- i remember once they came and shot up the school and he went after -- to protect his students, he went after the
gunman. i thought this is what happens to white people. >> what did you think of d.l. when he was growing up? >> 2k679 ld.l. people ask me, d hughley was in your class, as if he was going to walk in there, have a microphone and do a monologue or something. i tell them, if that would have happened, i probably would have gotten my microphone and beat him over the head with it. d.l. was quiet but a great kid. he was -- i still remembered him from -- it was funny though, because he went by d.l. i followed him all throughout his career. >> did you know you had such a big impact on his life? i know you vnd talked to him in 37 years. >> this is a funny thing. i've been trying to see him, just get a chance to talk to him. because i had his two sisters and brother, i was there teacher, too. i just wanted to see what was happening. he played in hermosa beach, which is right next to where i
live. i went down there. i sent him a little card, "mr. boston is in the audience." he brought me backstage. i didn't even know if he would remember me. 37 years, right? the guy has a photographic memory. he remembered everything. then he told me about how he felt. you know, i went into teaching to make a difference. obviously not to make a buck. and you know, some of the things, when you have something like that happen, my wife's a teacher. and she hasn't been teaching for as long as i have but she got this award from usc, teacher of the year. i've been teaching for 38 years. and i have never been awarded anything at all. but right over here knowing that i did something positive to create this gentleman right here, this wonderful person, i'll at the that over any award they can give me. >> you're crying. you are crying.
you joined a gang. you were not -- you dropped out. you end up getting your ged. >> yeah. >> why is what he's saying upsetting you so much? >> because i was this close to never making it. never being nothing. when i see people who don't believe they can do it, just one person can say one thing that nobody believes new, ever. and to have a dude say "you can be what you want?" we had a fair. i won an apple. i got it to my mother. she bit the apple, she said "this apple is rotten just like you are." i laughed, i told him that story. he said "you're not rotten. you're going to be something." i'll never forget that. >> the funny thing was, i knew he was going to be something. his family -- >> you knew. >> i knew. because his family, you know, they were very bright kids and
the parents were very hands-on and they were very concerned. but i didn't ever think he was going to be a comedian or anything like that. he was just too quiet. but it's funny when you find your niche. you know? you're not going to find it at 10 years old. >> d.l. hughley crying. shocker. i want to take a moment to introduce you all to a gentleman who is the star of our documentary "black in america 2," in our audience, dr. steve perry. president of capital prep tore m school. to have a opportunity talk about the impact 37 years later in life. >> a brother's objective is to make you cry. she's got both of us working over here. it can never be underestimated how important an educator is to a child's life. everyone here in times square can point to somebody who was in a school who at one point or nothing touched their life in one way or another. reason why i wake up at 4:30
every morning to make sure that i can pick children up to get them to school two hours before school starts is because i know that one day they're going to look back and they're going to change somebody's life because somebody took the time to change their life. so mr. boston, please, from all of us who's had a mr. boston in our life, thank you. thank you so much for what you do. >> are you still teaching, mr. boston? >> yes, i am. i just want to point out that i had a mentor, too. i took karate at 17 years of age with chuck norris. he changed my life over there. it's like seven degrees. then gi over there and teach him. nowadays there is a bull's-eye on public education now. i'm just telling you, that is the thing that makes our country great, it's the thing that has given us the democracy that we have, the educated citizenry, and it's also helped our economy out. >> every student can point to a teacher who's changed every single -- i see all the heads nodding. everybody knows they could shout out right now the teacher,
whether it was their fifth grade teacher or second grade teacher or ninth grade teacher who changed their life. mr. boston, so great to meet you. thank you for being with us. d.l., as always. we'll talk more about education and other solutions. some of the problems confronting the black community at 9:00 p.m. iron on the premier of cnn's "black in america 2." we are just a few minutes away from tonight's prime time presidential news conference. wolf blitzer and the members of the best political team on tv will join us in just a few minutes. next though, we'll bring back all four of our radio hosts to discuss president barack obama and where do we go from here. stay with us.
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welcome back, everybody. back with our radio talk show hosts tom joyner, steve harvey, d.l. hughley, bev smith. we started the night talking about henry louis gates and his experience, his arrest. then we're going to go in a few minutes to the first black president holding a press conference as he tries to redo health care in this nation. where are we as african-americans today? which side of the coin is it? is it the arrest in your home, is it the first black president? where are we? >> i think it is funny that no
one black man can encompass our entire -- we got barack obama and flava flave. fis it suffice it to say, we're not as far as we should be. i can't kill my daughter's dream with my nightmare so i have to have her be free to be who she is and believe what she does. i think barack obama has done that for children. these children believe that anything is possible. >> i think we've been where we always are. we had a fred dick douglas and we had laws that would not allow us to vote. we had a barack obama and we had georgia trying to return the poll tab. i think where we are are is under the confusion that we are free, which we are not. we are free slaves, in my opinion. i think we have a lot of work to do. do we celebrate in dick gregory would kill me if i didn't say yes.
do we celebrate in my mama's watching. yes. do we fight? that's what i'm upset about. black people have forgotten how to get up and fight again. the outrage. >> we look at statistics, especially in education, you want to say why are you not up screaming about some of these numbers. >> look at where we've come from and where we are now. yes, there's a whole lot more work to do. but, dr. gates is a professor at harvard. okay? yeah, he was racially profiled and all those things did happen to him. but, he is a professor at harvard. we have come that far to have a problem to come back to to remind us how far we have to go. >> yes. >> you use that in a way, as a positive reminder for folks. >> yes. >> steve? >> you know, i agree with
everything everybody has said. but on the upside of it, we are in a position when something does happen to a professor gates that we have a platform like this to voice it on a national level. there is an upside that we have the first african-american in the white house and now because of that, it is our obligation in our communities to validate his presidency. we can't expect president obama to change everything. if he did what he did, then we've got to do what we can do. what we can do is a lot more. >> we've all talked about this. he mentioned the word "we" in his inaugural address 43 times? roland martin, where are you? 47 times. thank you. 47 times. my sense in doing "black in america 2" is that people have taken the "we" part of it very seriously. some people have been doing it for decades and others are new to it and are running with that ball. do you see that change?
>> yes, i see that change. look what we're doing right here, right now. besides last year, the first one, when have we had this kind of attention as a people? we're talking about black america. black america and for the past two years, we haven't had this kind of attention. imin a very, very long time. not since the civil rights movement 20 years ago. >> where is america? we fought to fight. we fought to fight. and we're still fighting to fight. and the lights are on and it's because of two people. one was black, louis lattimore. we have to do a better job as black people internally telling our history and making sure that our history is told. if they don't tell it in school, tell it in church. if they don't tell it in church, tell it on sunday around that tabl table. ing a this young man says -- i'm proud of him. >> because i cry.
>> i'm proud of you. >> i can't go home now. >> i've got to take a short break. we'll finish on the other side of the break. we're other side of the break of course, we'll finally get to the president's press conference. president obama is going to walk, in fact, right into the east room of the white house for that prime time news conference in just a few minutes. i'm going to talk to our talk show host about what you would ask president obama given the moment. back in a few moments. man: it seems, only a minute ago, we were kids with little responsibility, zero accountability. our parents telling us what to do... how to behave. now, all of a sudden, we're there, in that role, at that time in our lives where everyone and everything is depending on us.
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just have a few minutes before the start of president obama's news conference. back with our radio talk show hosts tom joyner, d.l. hughley, bev smith and steve harvey. talk to me what you'd like to hear from president obama. bev, you start. >> i want to hear him say, he cannot do it without we, the people. and that we need to take the same kind of action that the republicans who have screwed up the entire world have done. that he needs us to get involved. >> steve harvey, what do you think? >> i think that anything he says, i'm going to be perfectly fine with it. i don't see any of of his opponents with a better idea. until you have a better idea, it sounds to me like you have no idea. >> he talks about health care a lot, tom joyner. you talked about this on your show. >> yeah, we did a story of people not so much afraid of getting cancer, but how to pay for it. so that's a concern.
health care in america is a concern of all america. not just black america, especially black america. when mainstream america has a cold, america has pneumonia. >> d.l.? >> ultimately, there will come a day in this country will america don't be -- they'll ask for concrete results. he's garnered a tremendous amount of political capital. and this to me is the right site. ultimately, he's going to have to choose what he's ascended on, and hopefully, it will be health care. >> to our panelists, i thank you. we'll seit to the best politica team on tv, wolf blitzer. >> soledad, thanks very much. an excellent, excellent discussion. we'll be back to you in one hour
for the premiere of "black in america 2." we're all looking forward to that right after the president's news conference. we're hear with the best political team on television. gloria borger is here. ed henry, our senior white house correspondent over at the white house. and john king, host of the you "state of the union." he's in a diner in texas right now. john, you're speaking to real folks out there, what are they saying to you? >> wol >> wolf, we're in texas, it has the dubious distinction of being the state with residents who do not have health insurance. talking to a gentleman who was here to have dinner with us tonight who had no health insurance, he went into a clinical drug trial to get the drugs. a woman had no health insurance when she found out she had breast cancer. we're in a public hospital that
treats largely the uninsured or underinsured. they say of course they want health care. but they're worried that the government is going to squeeze souch out of medicare and medicare, they won't be abe to keep the doors open. the urgency to reform is everywhere. when you get into the specifics, what would it mean to the insurance, who would pay for it. how do you raise the money. just on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being you completely trust the government with this, what do you think, they went a 5. they want to understand the issue to get it right, wolf. >> standby. ed henry at the white house. ed, the president is going to open with a statement, in addition to health care, he wants to reassure the public that the economic strategy over the next six months is working? >> that's right, wolf. they're saying they want to give a progress report, if you will. talk about the financial crisis,
make the case that he pulled the country back from the abyss and quickly turn to health care, saying you're really not going to turn the economy around without controlling the exploding costs of health care. he realizes that he's talking and talking, still the polls realize he's not breaking through the american public. with the naysayers, he believes he'll get this done through the year. house bill, senate bill, he wants to lay out in specific terms what will this mean for you in your pocketbook, wolf. >> stand by, ed henry. he's going to ask the president as well. soledad is still up in times square getting ready for an hour from now, "black in america 2." but you're going to be watching this news conference with some folks there and getting their reaction. i'm sure they're going to be listening very carefully? >> absolutely. there's no question. you heard it from the panel. health care is not an african-american issue. it is an american issue.
it's a problem with everybody that needs to be solved. regardless of what side of the aisle you're on, there's got to be some resolution. i mean, every day, the papers are full of stories of people who had coverage, even, that ends up in dire situations. so i think people are feeling that there needs to be some resolution. our panelists will be watching as well. i think people really want to hear the plan that the president is going to lay out. >> only about three minutes away from the start of this news conference. gloria, we're going to get back to soledad after the news conference as well. but, gloria, what are you going to be looking for and limping for from the president tonight? >> well i think i'm going to be looking for the same thing that soledad is looking for, which is, is the president actually going to tell us what part of all of these bills in the house and the senate that he supports. and i think the answer to that is going to be no. he's going to talking in very general terms about why we need health care. about how it's going to reduce the deficit. about how it fits into his
overall economic plan. but this is a president who is not now ready to draw the line in the sand. >> i hear from white house officials they don't want to negotiate the details with us in the news media. they want to negotiate the news media behind closed doors with democrats and republicans who are willing to negotiate with them. and they're not going to make concessions in the public. >> they are not. and i was going use the word "haunted." i don't think that's fair enough. with bill clinton and the democratic party went to suffer in 1994. there say lot of pressure for the president, you've been covering it in "the situation room." and the president, even though his poll numbers have slipped some, he still has the most strength. many democrats are saying, mr. president, this is time to bring us in a room and this is how